In TLEMsafe project, industrial and academic partners collaborate to establish a breakthrough technology which covers the fields of medical devices and healthcare. In that sense, the project contributes to the further development and growth of these economic sectors.

This project largely improves the quality of healthcare, particularly for patients that are heavily disabled due to tumor or high deformities of their musculo-skeletal system. Once the TLEMsafe system is developed and validated, it can be used to improve the sustainability of the quality of healthcare at an affordable cost. It feeds in with the aging European population from which it can be expected that chronic diseases will increase. In addition, the clinical community is increasingly successful in treating life threatening diseases (such as cancer), thereby putting more emphasis on the functional recovery of the patient.

TLEMsafe project improves surgical safety standards and quality control by linking patient specific pre-planning tools to ultimate functional outcome. The project also accommodates the urge of more demanding citizens who require best-quality care and cover for the use of latest diagnostics and treatments; a patient-specific treatment based on 3-D images of the patient is the ultimate patient-specific treatment. Furthermore, the project will facilitate the complex surgery, improve the functional outcome for the patients, and lead to a shorter rehabilitation period which complies with the reducing workforce, availability and accessibility of skilled nurses and medical specialists.

The way healthcare is delivered and the way medical knowledge is managed and transferred to clinical practice are changin. ICT tools and services are key technologies to implement these changes in such an information-intensive domain. This project feeds in with the recent advances in basic ICT components and the convergence of ICT technologies which allow for the development of life saving applications with great business opportunities. In this project, the various ICT tools offer a useful capability to improve the health status and safety of care and facilitates active participation of patients for this treatment option, thus opening new opportunities in personalized (patient-specific) health and disease management. Recent capabilities of modelling, simulation and biomedical imaging, combined with the latest knowledge about diseases, give rise to a new generation of predictive medical treatment options.

Expected outcome and users

It is expected that the project results in bridging the gap between bioengineers and clinicians. By putting emphasis on the musculo-skeletal pathologies and the adaptive capabilities of the human muscuslo-skeletal system, a unique system is obtained. By co-developing the software of the visual and interactive (surgical) parts with clinicians and companies, it is expected that it will be successfully introduced to (future) clinicians who perform surgical interventions to pathologies of the musculo-skeletal system.

Eventually this project contributes to the overall quality of reconstructive surgery in terms of training potential and optimal functional patient outcome. Hence, the most obvious end-users of this innovation are the reconstructive surgeons who want to optimize their surgical technique and functional capabilities of their patients. The developed system can also be used to discuss (and visualize) the expected functional outcome with the patient prior to the surgery. For example in a tumor case, the surgeon can investigate what the functional result will be of a limb saving operation. If this functional result is very limited, an amputation may be advisable. The ability to predict this outcome and discuss it with the patient is of great value.

Evidently orthopaedic companies are also interested and will participate in this project. Their interest is to train young surgeons and assist experienced surgeons to get the best performance of their products.

Impact for society

The major societal result of this project is that orthopaedic surgery becomes safer for the patient. This is achieved in several ways:

  • With more relevant patient specific data, the surgery can be better prepared and planned, decreasing the risk for complications. In future applications and for very complex interventions, it is even thinkable that the surgeon may be able to practice the procedure in a virtual reality environment on beforehand.
  • The intervention is better adapted to the properties and possibilities of the patient, so the functional outcome of surgery will improve, especially on the long term. This will improve the quality of life for the patient.
  • The improved knowledge of the patient will better facilitate the use of robotic manipulators during surgery. This opens possibilities for less invasive and more precise surgery, again with better functional outcome and shorter hospital stays.

The obvious benefits for the well-being of the patients also have clear economical benefits. In addition to direct costs savings for hospital stays alone, the better functional outcome will allow people to better participate in the working process again, which has positive effects on a macro-economical scale.

Additional information